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Press Release

Elmira Man Charged With Threatening Witness

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Isaiah L. McLaurin, 27, of Elmira, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with witness tampering. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey, who is handling the case, stated that the complaint alleges that, on May 17 and 18, 2017, the defendant made threats against an individual that he believed was cooperating in a drug investigation in the Elmira area. McLaurin’s intent was to prevent that individual from testifying and providing information to law enforcement authorities about the drug trafficking organization.  

On May 16, 2017, four individuals – Robert Ian Thatcher, Maximillian Sams, Dwayne Banks, and Carlito Rios, Jr., were arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with various offenses including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, quantities of furanyl fentanyl, a Schedule I controlled substance, and U-47700, a Schedule I controlled substance, during the time period from November 29, 2016 through May 16, 2017.

On May 16, 2017, an article about the arrests and investigation was published on the website for the Star Gazette, the local newspaper in Elmira. The article was entitled, “Four face federal charges in Elmira drug investigation.” A digital copy of the complaint and supporting affidavit was also published on the website with the article.  In the supporting affidavit, certain confidential sources were referenced by anonymous designations (including “CS-1” and “CS-2”).

On May 17, 2017, a member of law enforcement observed a series of public Facebook comments related to the investigation described in the article on a Facebook page bearing the user name “Isaiah Mclaurin” and a profile picture of the defendant.  One post stated:
            Isaiah Mclaurin
Facts somebody better have this (expletive) in protective custody cause if he thinks e can just pick his daughter up from school and everything’s gonna be ok.  He got it coming
McLaurin publicly identified the individual – referred to as Individual A – who he believes is one of the confidential sources referenced in the complaint against Thatcher, Sams, Banks and Rios, and threatened both Individual A and Individual A’s child.
McLaurin made an initial appearance and is being held pending a detention hearing on May 23, 2017.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rochester Resident Office and Scranton PA Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Elmira Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Kane; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division; the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Commissioner Colonel Tyree C. Blocker; the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Christopher J. Moss; the Iredell, NC County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Darren E. Campbell, and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Unit, under the direction of Director Brian Manaher.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated May 24, 2017